11 Easiest Fish to Take Care Of For Beginners

These freshwater fish do well in the community tank

Bright blue and pink beta fish swimming in fresh-water tank closeup

The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

Looking to get started in the freshwater aquarium hobby? It's important to remember that starting and maintaining an aquarium can take some work, but some fish are much easier to start out with than others. Some of the easiest fish to take care of include white cloud minnows, cherry barbs, goldfish, guppies, neon tetras, and cory catfish. All of these species are relatively peaceful, non-demanding fish that do well in a beginning fish tank. But it's always important to keep fish with similar requirements in water temperature, pH, and tank size housed together, so be sure to do your research before heading to the pet store.

  • 01 of 11

    Standard Goldfish (Carassius auratus)

    Goldfish in tank with plant

    Jessie Sanders

    There are many varieties of goldfish, but beginners should start with long-body goldfish, including the comet, sarasa, and shubunkin varieties. Fancy goldfish with unusual body shapes are better for more intermediate fish-keepers. Comet goldfish can be white, orange, gold, or black, and although they start very small, can grow up to 14 inches or the size of a large dinner plate. Sarasa and shubunkin goldfish倾向于保持smaller and can max out around 8 to 10 inches.

    No matter which type of goldfish you choose, keep in mind that you will need 20 gallons of water per fish, just to start! As they get bigger, goldfish will need upgrades to a larger aquarium.

    Goldfish, in general, are not great feed converters, so they may produce more waste than other fish. Graduate them to a pelleted diet as soon as they are big enough to eat it to reduce food waste that can produce additional ammonia.

    Species Overview

    Length:up to 8-14 inches

    Physical Characteristics:Two sets of paired fins and three single fins, no scales on head, exceptionally large eyes, come in red, orange, blueish-grey, brown, yellow, white, and black colors

  • 02 of 11

    Betta Fish (Betta splendens)


    Jessie Sanders

    Although they have the reputation as one of the easiest fish to keep, your betta will live a longer, happier life with a few upgrades from their sad, little fishbowl.

    斗鱼茁壮成长在一个5加仑坦克最低,a filter and heater. Being tropical fish, bettas should be kept at 78 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit (26 to 28 degrees Celsius). The bigger the volume of water, the easier it is for your heater to keep a constant temperature. Make sure your aquarium has a thermometer and not those unreliable stick-on ones!

    With their long, delicate fins, bettas are prone to being knocked about by quick flowing water. Use an appropriate size filter and turn the flow all the way down or divert it so your betta doesn't get pushed around by the water flow. Their fins are easily torn on sharp decor items. If you run your finger along any potential decor, you should not feel any firm or sharp protrusions. Use decor that is betta specific if you are concerned. Keep in mind that betta fish top out length-wise around three to four inches, so make sure all their decor will suit them as they grow.

    Bettas will fight with each other, so males need to be kept separated. Female bettas can usually be kept together in a large enough aquarium. For beginners, it is recommended to start with one male betta fish in his own tank. Bettas are easy to keep in a larger aquarium, and one male betta can be kept with similar-sized non-aggressive fish of other species. Extra water makes it easy for beginners to have an easy maintenance schedule. Your filter and heater will go a long way in making a happy betta home.

    Be sure you don't overfeed your betta! Their "stomach" is only about the size of their eyeball. They should never be allowed to eat their fill, but only as much food as they will eat in about 3 minutes, twice daily. Feeding quantity will depend on the size of your fish and pellet size. It is best that bettas eat betta-specific pellets in order to receive proper nutrition and the pellet size is appropriate for their mouth.

    Species Overview

    Length:3-4 inches (7-10 centimeters)

    Physical Characteristics:Long, elaborate fins and overlapping scales; come in vibrant colors like red, green, purple, and blue

  • 03 of 11

    (Para上cheirodon innesi)

    Two neon tetras

    Mirko_Rosenau / Getty Images

    They may seem small, but a school of these brightly colored fish can lookgreat in an aquarium. Bright streaks of blue and red make these fish a colorful addition to a community freshwater aquarium. Neon tetras tend to be very easy going and their small size makes a minimal impact on water quality.

    Neon Tetras can grow to one and a half inches long. They like to school together, so start with at least three to five individuals. They are the ideal occupants for a mellow, Zen-inspired planted aquarium.

    Neon tetras are easily bred in captivity, so be on the lookout for signs of inbreeding, including missing an operculum (gill cover), asymmetrical mouths, or misshapen fins. Heavily planted aquariums are needed to allow baby fish to hide and survive.

    There are pelleted diets available that are small enough for Neon Tetras, but flake foods can be used as well, especially for very small fish.

    Species Overview

    Length:1 and 1/2 inches (4 centimeters)

    Physical Characteristics:Red, white, blue, silver, and black, usually with a turquoise blue line stretching between its eyes to its adipose fin, and a red stripe that runs from the middle of its body to the caudal fin

  • 04 of 11

    Mollies & Platys (Live bearers)

    Mollie fish

    ho80 / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

    Many molly and platy owners start with only one or two fish. A few weeks later, they have many fish.Live-bearing fishhave this reputation, as the fish you first adopted has a 50 percent chance of being a pregnant female. Since fertilization takes place internally, you never know from the outward appearance how many fish you may be adopting. And after a single mating, a female livebearer can have multiple batches of babies!

    Mollies and platys are very easy fish to care for and come in many varieties and colors. They can be kept in schools and grow to about three inches in length. We recommend starting with a common variety that is widely available, such as a black mollyor red platy. Some specialty breeds, specific to only one owner or shop, tend to have inbreeding issues and they do not make good beginner fish.

    Most mollies and platys are hardy and easy to keep fish. They can eat a pelleted or flake diet. It is recommended to start with a 10-gallon aquarium at a minimum, but know you may have to upgrade as your population increases.

    With live-bearing fish, it is important to always plan for more fish. Even beginner fish keepers can successfully rear several generations, doubling or tripling your initial numbers within a few months. However, you will need to slow production eventually, and unmonitored breeding will cause eventual inbreeding. Thankfully, most species are sexually dimorphic and males and females can be distinguished by external characteristics. The males have long pointed anal fins and the females have a fan-shaped anal fins. This allows you to separate males and females to keep populations from exploding. You can try a tank divider, but it is safer to put males and females in separate aquariums if you don’t want continued breeding.

    Continue to 5 of 11 below.
  • 05 of 11

    Zebrafish (Danio rerio)

    Zebra fish

    isoft / Getty Images

    As their name describes, these cute, tiny fish are distinctive with their zebra-like horizontal black and white stripes along their bodies. Another fish that likes to swim in aschool, zebrafish make great beginner fish. Unlike other tropical fish, zebrafish don't require warm water temperatures. Zebrafish like cooler temperature water (around 70 degrees Fahrenheit, or 21 degrees Celsius), but you may still need a small heater to keep youraquarium from getting too cold in the winter.

    Zebrafish also come in normal and longfin lengths. This species will top out at two inches long. They even come in specialday-glow colors, thanks to a little genetic engineering with fluorescent jellyfish protein. These colors can be very pronounced under a blue LED light. When selecting specialized zebrafish varieties, look for individuals with straight spines and a full operculum covering their gills on both sides.

    斑马鱼是伟大的新手宠物没有哈斯le of keeping an eye on a heater constantly. They can eat standard tropical fish pellets or flake food. As with all other aquatic pets, performregular filter maintenance and water changes to keep the water clean and the fish healthy.

    Species Overview

    Length:2 inches (5 centimeters)

    Physical Characteristics:Silver-gold body with distinctive blue-black horizontal stripes running from gill to tail, also come in albino, golden, veil-tailed, and long-finned varieties, as well as glo-fish colors

  • 06 of 11

    Harlequin Rasbora (Trigonostigma heteromorpha)

    Harlequin Rasbora - Trigonostigma heteromorpha
    Harlequin Rasbora Drew Tyre

    There are several species of rasboras often kept in aquariums, but one of the easiest is the harlequin raspbora. This pretty little fish has a pinkish-beige body, orange fins, and a prominent black triangular marking on its tail. Harlequin rasboras are peaceful fish that do very well in a community tank, as long as you keep them with other fish around their same size of 1 to 2 inches. These are schooling fish, so it's best to keep them in a group of four to six.

    The harlequin rasbora mostly swim through the middle to upper part of the tank, and prefer water that's around 76 degrees and has a pH of around 7.2. As long as these conditions are met, the harlequin rasbora is a hardy fish that remains in motion most of the time. They need at least a 10-gallon tank for a school of six fish, but a larger tank is better.

    Your harlequin rasboras will thrive on a diet of good-quality flake tropical fish food, and will also enjoy occasional treats of live daphnia or brine shrimp.

    Species Overview

    Length:2 inches (5 centimeters)

    Physical Characteristics:Pinkish-beige or pale orange body with bright orange fins and a black triangular mark on the tail

  • 07 of 11

    Cory Catfish (Corydoras)

    Panda Corydoras
    Panda Cory Chronotopian

    Another great fish for beginners is the familyCorydoras. While there are many species within this group, some of the easiest are the panda cory (shown in the photo here), the bronze cory, and the albino cory. All of these catfish are bottom feeders that spend their time peacefully scavenging along the substrate in search of tidbits of food.

    These social and easy-going fish do well in community tanks, and prefer to be in schools of at least four of their own species. Most grow no larger than 1 or 2 inches in length. They are fairly flexible in terms of water chemistry and temperature, but do best in a temperature range of 72 to 82 degrees and a pH range of 6.5 to 7.8. Their tank should be at least 20 gallons.

    These fish are easy to breed and aren't too picky about food, although they especially like worms and pelleted fish food designed to sink to the bottom of the tank.

    Species Overview

    Length:2 inches (5 centimeters)

    Physical Characteristics:Varies by species. Panda corys are silvery-beige with darker spots on their face and lower body.

  • 08 of 11

    Cherry Barb (Puntius titteya)

    Male Cherry Barb
    Male Cherry Barb Sannse

    Unlike their far more aggressive cousin, the tiger barb, the cherry barb is a peaceful community fish with a gorgeous red color in the male, and a slightly duller red in the female. These fish can be shy at first, but once they warm up to their new environment, they are active fish that zip around the tank and like to swim in and out of plants or other tank decor. Keep tiger barbs in schools of at least six, and house them with other small fish that don't exceed 2 inches or so in length.

    The cherry barb is quite easy to care for. They do best in a tank that's 20 gallons or more, with water temperature between 74 and 80 degrees and pH between 6.0 and 7.0. They aren't generally picky about food and do well on a diet of tropical fish pellet food, although they enjoy an occasional snack of fresh vegetables or frozen worms or daphnia.

    Species Overview

    Length:2 inches (5 centimeters)

    Physical Characteristics:Breeding males are bright red. Males not in breeding season and females are a duller red with brighter highlights.

    Continue to 9 of 11 below.
  • 09 of 11

    Guppy (Poecilia reticulata)

    Colorful Guppy

    Guppies are one of the most popular beginner fish for the freshwater aquarium, and it's no wonder. They are very easy to care for, they breed readily, they come in a wide range of beautiful colors, and they get along well with other fish that are similar in size and temperament. Give your guppies plenty of hiding places in the tank, because they can be shy, but when comfortable, they are lovely to watch swimming to and fro.

    Guppies should have a tank that's at least 10 gallons, but bigger is better. Groups of three or more do best, but guppies breed quickly, so you may soon end up with far more fish than you expected. Feed your guppies flake or pellet food and provide occasional treats of frozen proteins or bits of fresh vegetables.

    Keep the water in your guppy tank between 68 and 78 degrees, with a pH between 6.5 and 8.0.

    Species Overview

    Length:Females: 1 to 2 inches (5 centimeters), Males: Less than 1 inch to 2 inches (5 centimeters)

    Physical Characteristics:A very wide range of colors and color combinations. Fins vary as well, with some varieties having shorter, rounded fins and others having long, flowing fins

  • 10 of 11

    White Cloud Minnow (Tanichthys albonubes)

    White cloud mountain minnow fish with gray scales and orange fins closeup

    The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

    The graceful white cloud minnow is a peaceful community fish as long as it is kept with at least five others of its species and in a tank with other fish of similar size and temperament. These fish generally grow to around 1.5 inches in length and have varying degrees of red or pink coloring on a silvery body. Males are generally more colorful than females.

    Keep your white cloud minnow in a tank that's at least 10 gallons, although 20 gallons or more is better. These fish like it cooler than many other freshwater species; water temperature of 60 to 72 degrees is best, making these fish a good match for goldfish. The pH should be 6.0 to 8.0.

    The white cloud minnow is not a picky eater. Feed your fish a diet of flake or pellet food with occasional additions of live, freeze-dried, or frozen worms, daphnia, brine shrimp, or mosquito larvae.

    Species Overview

    Length:1.5 inches (4 centimeters)

    Physical Characteristics:Shimmering silvery bodies with a dark stripe and red fins

  • 11 of 11

    Kuhli Loach (Pangio kuhlii)

    Kuhli Loach
    Kuhli Loach Robert Mollik

    This eel-like fish prefers the bottom of the tank and can be somewhat nocturnal, but the kuhli loach gets along well with other small peaceful fish and does best when kept in groups of five or more of its own species. Its long body and dramatic stripes are quite striking, especially when the fish darts in and out of greenery in the tank.

    Provide a 20-gallon or larger tank with a substrate of sand or small, smooth gravel, as these fish like to burrow and dig in the substrate, and can be injured by sharp gravel. A tightly-fitted lid is also a necessity, as they can be jumpers. The water temperature should be between 75 and 86 degrees, and the pH between 6.0 and 6.5.

    Feed your kuhli loach live or frozen food as much as possible. Blood worms, tubifex worms, daphnia, and glass worms are all devoured quickly. You can also provide sinking pellets of tropical fish food, wafers, or flakes. It's best to feed these fish at night when they are most active.

    Species Overview

    Length:4 inches (10 centimeters)

    Physical Characteristics:Long, and eel-like with dark brown stripes on a yellowish or pinkish body.

Getting into the aquarium hobby is an exciting experience! Once you have decided on what species to keep, do your homework and plan a suitable aquarium for the fish you get. Keep in mind that all new aquariums will need to undergonitrogen cyclingbefore becoming established systems. By starting with a low number of fish in a lot of water, you can set yourself up for success.

  • Why can't freshwater fish live in saltwater?

    Freshwater fish need water that has a salinity of less than 0.05 percent. If the concentration of salt in their water is too high, their bodies will lose water in an attempt to process out the saltwater and they will end up dehydrated, eventually leading to their death.

  • How do you set up a freshwater fish tank?

    Setting up a freshwater fish tank is a multi-step process, which includes installing a filter, choosing a substrate, filling the tank, conditioning the water, and more. Beyond that, certain freshwater fish may have specific needs, such as at what temperature their water should be kept. For more information on caring for specific freshwater fish breeds, visittheir breed profile.

  • How often should you feed freshwater fish?

    When it comes tofeeding fish, most will do best when fed once a day. Fish take between 16 and 24 hours to fully digest their food, so this cadence is best for keeping your fish healthy and not overfed.